[updated October 20, 2014 11:34 AM]
As those who have followed our account of the story of the Ebola virus in the US already know, there has been no Ebola virus epidemic in the United States to date, and the chances of one actually occurring have been very low all along.
Today, the first actual data on how well an exposure to Ebola virus in the community can spread in the US has been reported. The information comes from Dallas, Texas, the only city in the nation where Ebola has spread, so far.
As we all know that spread to date has been to a total of two people. These two people, and the original patient, have been found to have exposed 149 people in Dallas and two flights, one to Cleveland and one from Cleveland.
Today we now know how many of the first 43 [was reported as 50 earlier today] of these 149 exposed people actually caught Ebola virus infection from these two nurses and the patient. These 43 are the first of the 149 to be tested and fully monitored for the full 21 days needed to prove or disprove if they caught the disease.
And how many of these 43 people were proven to catch the Ebola virus? The answer is zero!
Not a single person of these first 43 to be observed for a full 3 weeks caught the virus, none of them!
We of course need to wait a full 21 days for the rest of the 155 in Dallas and on the planes, and for another 153 people here in 16 of Ohio's counties to know for sure if the patient and Dallas and two of his nurses spread Ebola to anyone in the United States. Note that another 5 people in Dallas are so far negative and are only a few hours from full clearance later today.
But these initial results from the first 43 exposed Americans to reach the 21 day waiting period mark could not possibly be more reassuring. A very low rate would have been better news than a high rate of contagion, but zero transmission across 43 people clearly bolsters the evidence that this virus is not very contagious.
One of the 43 who did not catch it was a man who used the ambulance used by the actual patient in Dallas to get to the hospital before the ambulance was cleaned. The fact that he did not catch it increases the chance that people on the nurse's plane but not same flight are more likely to be safe, too. Another two, lived with one of the nurses who got infected, the one who did not come to Ohio. One of these two people was her fiance who cared for her while ill at home and the other her child who lived with her. Both of these people with very close contact were cleared today, they did not catch Ebola.
The fact that 0 of 43 exposed people caught Ebola should go a long way towards reassuring all of us in Ohio that the risk of an Ebola virus outbreak or epidemic in Ohio is exceedingly remote. We have every hope that the next days will establish that there is no Ebola risk in Ohio.
Again, until all 258 in Texas and Ohio, who are waiting to be cleared like the 43 already cleared, are cleared, caution and concern are still in order. But indicators are good that there will be on Ebola crisis here, at least for now.
To your health,
Dr. Arthur Lavin
Dr. Arthur Lavin
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